I went to the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at the begining of the year– the Ascot of Cape Town. On a blisteringly hot and slightly windy day, this is Cape Town in January after all, we made our way to Kenilworth Racecourse in our finery – hats included. Upon arrival and under the unmoving gaze of Table Mountain, we crossed the famous tracks, led by jodhpur-encased staff, and made our way to the Chef’s Table which was beautifully set up and completely separate. If you are yearning for comfort, style, shade and sparkling wine on tap it’s definitely the place to be. Everything was calming hues of pale blue and white, the L’Ormarins colours, and included lovely mementos for each of the guests: shawls for the ladies, straw hats for the men, both of which came in handy during the long day of fun both in and out of the sun.
In order to have a glass or two of champagne, we got there early before it was time to sit down to the first of many plates of delicious food, each accompanied by perfectly paired wine. As a racing novice, the first of twelve came out of nowhere and suddenly there was the sound of galloping hooves and cheering stands all around us. In a flash the horses had gone, however I managed to tear my gaze away from the culinary delights just in time – the beauty of the Chef’s Table is that it is literally next to the track so there is no chance of missing any of the action.
Eleven more races were to come, along with the all important announcements of ‘Best Hat’ and ‘Best Dressed’ – sadly I won neither, however people really commit to the dress code (which was blue and white to keep in with the theme) and there was no shortage of weird and wonderful outfits on display, along with the rich and famous of South Africa. I ended up washing my hands in the loo next to former Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss – and yes she did look beautiful. My miniature hat from Chinatown withered slightly in her presence.
By the time the coffees were served, very necessary in certain cases, we all agreed it had been a brilliant day. Those who knew more about racing than me (which isn’t hard) said that while L’Ormarins will never compare to Ascot or Goodwood in stature, the overall experience had exceeded their expectations. Not too much money had been lost, I had in fact made a whopping R70 (around £4), and everyone was full and happy. Back we walked across the tracks, already plotting our next visit.